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Dining Out in San Diego: Dec. 8, 2017 – Jan. 11, 2018

Posted: December 8th, 2017 | Dining Out, Featured, Food & Drink | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

A second San Diego location of True Food Kitchen has opened in La Jolla’s University Town Center, which recently underwent a major makeover to its gardens, plaza areas and retail spaces. The restaurant, which has an established location in Fashion Valley Mall, took over 9,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor space for the new outlet. Eco-friendly design elements include herb-filled garden basins, hardwood floors and chairs made out of recycled soda bottles.

True Food Kitchen has arrived to the remodeled UTC shopping mall. (Photo by Bradley Schweit Photograph)

The menu features an array of seasonally driven dishes rooted in the principles of Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet. True Food currently has 21 locations in several U.S. states. 4303 La Jolla Village Drive, Suite 2100, 858-431-4384,


The relocated Ceviche House, which originally launched four years ago at local farmers markets and then opened as a brick-and-mortar eatery in North Park, is now up and running at its new home in Old Town.

The space is larger and more stylish in comparison, and with indoor-outdoor seating and signature ceviches inspired from different regions of Mexico.

La Paz ceviche with bigeye tuna and orange zest at Ceviche House (Photo by Frank Sabatini Jr.)

Chef-partner Juan Carlos Recamier’s expanded menu features fresh oysters with mignonette sauce and several hot dishes such as grilled octopus and steamed or pan-seared local fish. 2415 San Diego Ave., Suite 109, 619-795-2438,


Farm-to-table advocate Trish Watlington is selling her long-established restaurant, The Red Door, along with her newer, adjoining venture, Bar by Red Door. Both are lauded for serving locally sourced produce (some from Watlington’s Mt. Helix garden) and sustainable proteins.

The forthcoming owner is Luciano Cibellia, a native of Milan, Italy, and an accomplished chef who has cooked in kitchens across Europe and in New York City. He too eschews big distributors and uses only ingredients that can be traced.

The sale is expected to close in February and we’re told that Cibellia will keep The Red Door name, at least until the community gets to know him. The businesses will stay open through the transition, after which Watlington plans on remaining active in the food community while continuing to support local growers through Farm-to-Fork Week, which is next scheduled for Jan. 14–21. 741 W. Washington St., 619-295-6000,


Champagne expert Dustin Jones of Skurnik Wines will head up an informative tasting of French Champagne from 7 to 10 p.m., Dec. 22, at The Wine Lover in Hillcrest. Guests can drop in at any time during the indoor-outdoor event to sample four pours featuring three whites and one rosè, all hailing from within France’s Champagne province. The cost is $35 per person. 3968 Fifth Ave., 619-294-9200,


The recent closing of Spitz Mediterranean Street Food in Hillcrest will give way to Fifth Avenue Kitchen & Tap in the coming months. Described by the property brokerage firm, Location Matters, as “a fun bistro-style sports bar,” the project is the brainchild of buyer Ron Crilley, who also owns The Kraken in Cardiff and OC Tavern in San Clemente. The indoor-outdoor establishment will feature New Orleans-inspired cuisine. 3515 Fifth Ave.


Matt Sieve of Madison on Park in University Heights has created a new food window for the neighborhood bar next door, Park & Rec. The service operates under the name Renegade and carries a retro ’80s vibe through nostalgic music and movie references as well as dishes such as assorted Tater Tots, shell pasta mac n’ cheese and various grilled sandwiches. The window is open from 5 to 10 p.m. daily and will eventually offer brunch. 4612 Park Blvd., 619-795-9700,

Tater Tots topped with carnitas and nacho cheese at Renegade inside Park & Rec (Courtesy Katalyst Public Relations)


This writer’s spouse recently discovered (and purchased online) what Bon Appètit magazine rated as “the best panettone in existence.” Coincidentally, so did local restaurateur Matteo Catteneo, who is carrying the tall-standing Italian sweet bread for the month of December at Buona Forchetta in South Park, as well as Officine Buona Forchetta in Liberty Station.

Known as “Panettoni from Roy,” the cupcake-shaped loaves are made in the Bay Area by famed pastry chef Roy Shvartzapel, who has revolutionized the ubiquitous holiday confection with wild yeast, top-quality pistachios and dried fruits, pearl sugar and dough that requires 40 hours to cure and proof. The result is an unusually airy panettone that melts in your mouth and transcends commercial brands.

A fabulous mail-order dessert by a renowned pastry chef is now available at two local Italian restaurants. (Photo by Frank Sabatini Jr.)

Catteneo sells it at his restaurants for $15 a slice or $65 for a whole loaf, which weighs 2.2 lbs. Consumers can also purchase it online for $50 a loaf (plus delivery) at


The annual tradition of turkey mole tacos and other holiday fare has returned to dining rooms throughout San Diego County at Bazaar Del Mundo Restaurants, including Casa Guadalajara in Old Town (4105 Taylor St.). The tamales, available through Jan. 1, are filled with roasted turkey as well as raisins, pecans and apples. They’re topped with rich mole sauce and sesame seeds.

Get your turkey mole tamales in Old Town (Courtesy Bazaar del Mundo Restaurants)

Other restaurants serving them are Casa de Pico (5500 Grossmont Center Drive, La Mesa), Casa de Bandini (1901 Calle Barcelona, Carlsbad), and Casa Sol y Mar (12865 El Camino Real, Del Mar).


A new, casual spot for craft beer, creatively sauced chicken wings and other bar fare has opened near Windansea Beach in La Jolla. Nautilus Tavern replaces the La Jolla Tap and Grill with a refreshed interior, nearly 30 beers on tap and reasonably priced wines. The varied food menu includes marinated beef tips, “grown up” grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers, and wings in assorted flavors, such as maple-bacon-bourbon. 6830 La Jolla Blvd., 858-750-2056,


—Frank Sabatini Jr can be reached at

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